By Melissa Fares
(Reuters) - The cast of new anti-hero movie "Suicide Squad" defended the film on Wednesday from scathing reviews, saying it was for the fans to decide if it does justice to the DC Comics characters it is based on.
"The critics have been absolutely horrific, they're really, really horrible. You know, I just don't think they like superhero movies," Cara Delevingne, who plays the Enchantress, told Reuters at the film's London premiere.
Delevingne added that while "this movie isn't perfect," it was made for the fans.
"Suicide Squad," out in theaters on Friday, follows a rogue group of anti-heroes with special powers - Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Boomerang, Killer Croc and El Diablo - who are held hostage by Gotham's government to use as weapons to protect the city.
Many critics have panned the film, with Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair calling it "too shoddy and forgettable to even register as revolting." The film has a 31 percent rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
Will Smith, who plays Deadshot, commended the film's writer-director David Ayer for weaving together the stories of 10 characters and setting up a new world within Warner Bros.' expanding cinematic superhero universe.
"I think people had expectations that may have been different, but I'm excited for the fans to get to vote," Smith said.
Ayer added, "I made the movie for real people who live in the real world. I made the movie for people who actually love movies and go and see movies."
The flurry of negative reviews led more than 17,000 people on Wednesday to sign an online Change.org petition calling for Rotten Tomatoes to be shut down.
Abdullah Saleh, a 22 year-old university student in Alexandria, Egypt, launched the petition, telling Reuters he felt "there is some kind of pattern for movie critics to give DC Extended Universe movies bad reviews."
"I created the petition just to gather DC Fans and express their anger just for fun. I didn't mean it to be taken that serious," Saleh said.
He later suspended the petition, saying "the only thing that it does is spreading a speech of hate and online fighting."
"Suicide Squad" showcases a new direction for Warner Bros' DC superhero universe, which has taken a more dramatic and serious tone in action films such as "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."
It is expected to gross $125 million in North America when it opens this weekend, according to box office analysts.
(Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York and Reuters TV in London; Writing by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Diane Craft)